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Death of PR

UCSD’s budget crisis has claimed the glitzy job of Stacie Spector, the school’s associate vice chancellor of university communications and public affairs. Deputy communications director in the Clinton White House and deputy campaign manager for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential bid, Spector arrived at UCSD in August 2004. In 2006, during the salad days of the university system, when money was no object, she headed up a six-figure “branding initiative” to promote the campus in the national media. “The bottom line is, outside of San Diego the UCSD name is not that well known,” she told the Union-Tribune. “What we’re trying to do is beef up and strengthen the UCSD brand.” Spector’s biggest splash came in May 2007, when UCSD paid Al Gore $100,000 to give a lecture on global warming at the school and threw a lavish VIP-only party in his honor at Scripps Aquarium. Gore’s contract banned contact with the media. “There will be no press opportunities or availabilities, i.e., press conferences or statements, etc.,” it said. “Vice President Gore will accept no interview requests.”

Spector’s PR duties are being taken over by Associate Chancellor Clare Kristofco, longtime second-in-command to Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. According to a database of UC salaries compiled by the Orange County Register, Spector was paid $180,569 in 2007. Kristofco got $184,300. Last month, UC regents voted to boost Kristofco’s pay grade due to the added workload.

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UCSD’s budget crisis has claimed the glitzy job of Stacie Spector, the school’s associate vice chancellor of university communications and public affairs. Deputy communications director in the Clinton White House and deputy campaign manager for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential bid, Spector arrived at UCSD in August 2004. In 2006, during the salad days of the university system, when money was no object, she headed up a six-figure “branding initiative” to promote the campus in the national media. “The bottom line is, outside of San Diego the UCSD name is not that well known,” she told the Union-Tribune. “What we’re trying to do is beef up and strengthen the UCSD brand.” Spector’s biggest splash came in May 2007, when UCSD paid Al Gore $100,000 to give a lecture on global warming at the school and threw a lavish VIP-only party in his honor at Scripps Aquarium. Gore’s contract banned contact with the media. “There will be no press opportunities or availabilities, i.e., press conferences or statements, etc.,” it said. “Vice President Gore will accept no interview requests.”

Spector’s PR duties are being taken over by Associate Chancellor Clare Kristofco, longtime second-in-command to Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. According to a database of UC salaries compiled by the Orange County Register, Spector was paid $180,569 in 2007. Kristofco got $184,300. Last month, UC regents voted to boost Kristofco’s pay grade due to the added workload.

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Comments
11

I quibble about there having been a period when "money was no object" on that campus. The UCSD administration is and has been constantly talking about shortages of funding for all sorts of things. I'm trying very hard to think of some ways that having a high paid flack on staff really benefits the typical undergraduate student--or graduate/professional student either. Spend the money on someone like her, and several dollars per student are not available for instructional activity or things that support it.

Then there is the fact that in recent years we learned that the upper echelons of UC administration displayed their total inability to run the university properly. Before he was driven into well-deserved retirement the former UCSD chancellor and later UC president, Dynes, made proposals to hire a VP to do the "administration" for him. That is, hire an assistant to do his job! Pathetic.

In the past few years, UCSD hasn't been doing bad at all. It is now one of the Big 3 in the UC system as measured in applications for admission, rivaling the much older campuses in Berkeley and Los Angeles. That's surprising, because it utterly lacks intercollegiate athletics.

My son and I, both UCLA alums, agree that the one person who really put UCLA on the map had nothing to do with its academic accomplishments. It was John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach with his string of NCAA men's championships, that really got the public across the US to notice the school. And he's been retired from that job since 1975, and will soon have his 100th birthday!

Overpaid purveyors of publicity like this one are a feature of modern university life I suppose, but ask yourself it that notice really begets any improvement in the educational experience.

Oct. 16, 2009

Astounding! In the two-plus weeks since I made the previous posting, NOBODY thought this story or my comments were worth another comment. Does anybody read this stuff? Does anybody involved with UCSD give a hoot?

Oct. 31, 2009

"Spector’s biggest splash came in May 2007, when UCSD paid Al Gore $100,000 to give a lecture on global warming at the school and threw a lavish VIP-only party in his honor at Scripps Aquarium. Gore’s contract banned contact with the media. “There will be no press opportunities or availabilities, i.e., press conferences or statements, etc.,” it said. “Vice President Gore will accept no interview requests.”

Liberal elitism at it's finest. And these people are prouder than the NBC peacock!

Oct. 31, 2009

Visduh, I'd like to point out that UCSD has gained its reputation solely on the strength of brain power. In cognitive science particularly, it's considered the best in the world.

Collegiate sports had NOTHING to do with this, and that's as it should be. Universities shouldn't be known for winning games. They should be known for winning knowledge.

Compare UCSD to SDSU. Poor SDSU wastes hundreds of millions every year on football games nobody cares about. SDSU, academically, is third tier at best.

UCSD avoids this waste and concentrates on education and research instead of foolish games. It's consistently ranked among the best universities in the world.

Instead of ever emulating schools like UCLA by grafting on an unwanted sports franchise onto their campus, UCSD should be the example leading UCLA to jetison its jocks and replace them with scholars.

Nov. 1, 2009

"Universities shouldn't be known for winning games."

No worries about that ever happening in San Diego, Fred.

Nov. 1, 2009

Compare UCSD to SDSU. Poor SDSU wastes hundreds of millions every year on football games nobody cares about. SDSU, academically, is third tier at best.

Actually Fred, for it's size and expenses, SDSU is ranked in the top tier nationally.

Out of the 23 university Cal State system it is ranked #1.

Nov. 1, 2009

"Universities shouldn't be known for winning games."

No worries about that ever happening in San Diego, Fred.

By refriedgringo

Gringo, in the recent past SDSU has had #1 ranked football teams, track teams, rugby teams (club) and both mens and womens volleyball teams.

But I agree, with Fred, universities should be about academics first and foremost.

I would also kick all the frats and sororities off campus-there is no reason for them to be a part of academic life.

Nov. 1, 2009

"Gringo, in the recent past SDSU has had #1 ranked football teams..."

They basically had three or four years of success under Coryell, none of which involved even a sniff at the national championship. Weak conference, weak schedule. No offense to Coryell, loved his style. My guess is that rugby and volleyball don't take much of a bite out of the school budget. Dammit SurfPup, can't you just laugh at my funny?!

Nov. 1, 2009

I'll second Fred on this one.

Nov. 2, 2009

They basically had three or four years of success under Coryell, none of which involved even a sniff at the national championship. Weak conference, weak schedule. No offense to Coryell, loved his style. My guess is that rugby and volleyball don't take much of a bite out of the school budget. Dammit SurfPup, can't you just laugh at my funny?!

============================

I was PISSED when they CUT the V-ball programs, because as you said, they cannot cost that much to run!

When Don C was the football coach at SDSU (back then SDSC) we won championships, if not a national title. As for the schedule, we played other teams that were near our size, so I don't think the opponents were weak.

I would cut SDSU's football team right now. I remember when they built a super fancy football complex on the campus back in the late 80's, they didn't want anyone using it except for the football team-but it was ont he campus and used all campus utilites-gas, electrec, janitorial, etc. They then allowed one SDSU class to be taught in the complex once a week to comply with minimal requirements. This was with AD Fred Miller, who had the brain power of a circus chimp.

(BTW, we did have a national champion rugby team).

Nov. 2, 2009

Fred, I think you missed my point. UCSD got where it is without an overpaid press agent. They were concentrating on brainpower, and it paid off for them. UCLA, by contrast, is constantly and nauseatingly spouting about its "excellence", yet all the bragging didn't really put it on the map. John Wooden was the biggest factor in that, along with its Hollywood/Sunset Strip proximity.

If UCSD wants to spend some money productively, they need to come up with something that really ties the students to the school. In that area, UCSD is lacking. They spend their sports money on participative sports, which sounds great on the surface. But what is the glue that holds the place together, and that bonds alums to the place? There isn't much. Maybe there is a reason for having those intercollegiate sports. Some pretty humble schools, speaking academically, have wonderful school spirit.

BTW, my OTHER son is a UCSD alum, and I do speak from some experience about his lack of alumni spirit. A flack has a role, but public relations efforts can only do about so much to buff up a reputation. There were other, better uses of $180K a year than for a publicity hound.

Nov. 3, 2009

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